It’s one of the most important, most universally relevant, most complicated exercises in the whole gym. I personally think it’s also the most mentally challenging — few lifts strike fear into your soul like being stuck at the bottom of a heavy squat.⚡️But the fact that they’re so difficult should then tell you how valuable they are.
1️⃣”Heavy feet/feet grounded/spread the floor”. Stand with heavy feet, meaning push yourself into the ground hard. Then, without actually moving your legs or feet, try to spread the floor apart by trying to push your feet out laterally. This will set you up to maximize muscle tension, awareness, and stability.
2️⃣”Push knees out/externally rotate from the hips”. There is no exercise in the gym, EVER, where you will internally rotate your knees. Period! ERASE this pattern from your repertoire. It’s the fastest way to wreck your knees, potentially for good. Push knees out to increase power and stability from the main muscle of this exercise: the GLUTES.
3️⃣”Break the bar” with your hands. Create a “snapping” sensation through the hands, originating from the shoulders and lats. This will solve almost every issue with the upper body on this exercise.
4️⃣”More hips/lean forward”. I will fight any asshole who wants to go toe to toe on this one. You do NOT need to stay upright on a back squat (when the bar is on your back like the picture here). Stop it. Read the research, watch what the experts are saying and doing, and stop trying to sit up. You need to lean forward for several reasons, but here are two big ones: the bar (aka the load) needs to stay over your center of gravity (the middle of your feet), and you can’t accomplish this without leaning forward here; and remember, the main muscle we’re after here is the glutes — and the glutes flex/extend the HIPS (not the knees), and so we need more emphasis on hip flexion to in turn recruit more glutes.
5️⃣”Chin NEUTRAL”. Not up, not down, NEUTRAL. This subject probably requires an entirely different post, but in order to keep the integrity of your spine intact under weight: keep chin in neutral.
Better technique means better strength, muscle, & physique. Focus on form FIRST!